Moon Jung-Woo, mayor of Geumsan-gun, Korea’s top ginseng producer, highlights his success principles, vision

 

Geumsan-gun Mayor Moon Jung-woo during the interview with Asia N

Geumsan-gun Mayor Moon Jung-woo during the interview with AsiaN

By Sang-ki Lee
Former President of the Journalists Association of Korea,
CEO of Magazine N and AsiaN

GEUMSAN-GUN: Geumsan-gun is one of Korea’s top ginseng producers. Located 200 kilometers south of the capital Seoul, it has been growing ginseng, the herb with multiple proven health benefits, for hundreds of years.

Recently. It has created the Geumsan Herbal Specialized Agriculture Complex to produce ginseng, medical products, and groceries, and export them abroad.

AsiaN interviewed Moon Jung-Woo, the mayor of Geumsan-gun. The former businessman elected in 2018 is carrying out policies by communicating with the people of Geumsan County with his beliefs and vision for the future.

How much is the budget for 2020? Did you achieve anything this year?

“It was the first time in Geumsan County’s history that the budget has reached 500 billion won. We actively secured state and provincial funds, and this was successfully achieved thanks to our quick response to the government’s fiscal expansion policy. Geumsan’s traditional ginseng farming became the world’s first ginseng crop being listed as a World Important Agricultural Heritage by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

As of the end of July 2020, the total population of Geumsan-gun is 51,696 people. I think communication is more important than anything else. What are some difficulties of communication?

“There were some arguments over the issue of landfill and incineration. Until now, there are some people who died only after fighting in villages. They died after fighting without seeing the result. I was in the opposite position and called the residents to negotiate. This is what I told them. ‘Until when are you going to fight each other? Why don’t we put an end now? I’ll tell you the principles I can keep. There is no more compensation. The incinerator will operate normally right after the construction is completed. Moving it is impossible since too much taxpayer’s money has been invested. It cannot be stopped here and moved to another place. I can never do that even if I quit my job as a mayor. Then the residents started to make concessions to each other and finally reached an agreement. I believe principles and consistency are the most important factors when implementing policies.

Mayor Moon put the principle ahead and Geumsan-gun laid the foundation for stable disposal of household waste for the next 300 years as of June 2019.

Geumsan-gun was able to win the grand prize in the Environmental Category of the Korea Environment Awards because they built the facility considering all the environmental factors.

The move-in ceremony of Geumsan Herbal Specialized Agriculture Complex held in May. Geumsan Mayor Moon Jung-woo (fifth from left) and Kim Choong-hwan, head of KYUNGBANG (fourth from left) during the group photo.

The move-in ceremony of Geumsan Herbal Specialized Agriculture Complex held in May. Geumsan Mayor Moon Jung-woo (fifth from left) and Kim Choong-hwan, head of KYUNGBANG (fourth from left) during the group photo.

Principle, conviction and activeness are his three keywords.

“I always do my work with a positive mind of ‘Nothing is impossible’. There is nothing impossible when we do have a positive mind. Take securing the government budget as an example. It is necessary to quickly come up with a reasonable plan to secure the budget. Officials at the county office are also asked to take a draft to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance to persuade the person who is in charge. It may not pass at once. It might take two or three more times, but if we challenge it continuously, it could be something that is not challenging anymore.”

Moon added that “the ‘active administration’ in which public officials actively handle their work based on creativity and expertise for the public good is more important than anything else.”

When he was appointed as a mayor on July 1, 2018, he hosted KYUNGBANG in Geumsan Ginseng Herbal Specialized Agriculture Complex which produces Korea’s best ginseng-related health products, and has a total area of 114,686 square meters.

Foreigners enjoying the ‘2019 Geumsan Ginseng Festival’

Foreigners enjoying the ‘2019 Geumsan Ginseng Festival’

Geumsan Insam is recognized worldwide for its efficacy, as it is designated as a World Important Agriculture Heritage. Despite a poor trade environment caused by COVID-19, Geumsan Insam posted $9.66 million in exports in May 2020, which is just 0.5 percent decrease from the $9.71 million of last year. With the global trend of focusing on immunity, it is needless to say that there will be a lot of love calls for Geumsan Insam.

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